Jobs at risk as Airbus ends A380 production

European plane producer Airbus has announced that it will soon cease production of one of its most iconic passenger planes. It could hold up to 800 people and was once the world’s largest passenger capacity aircraft.

The decision came as Emirates, Airbus’ largest purchaser of the A380, moves towards using a selection of smaller, more profitable aircraft. Emirates will instead order 70 smaller aircraft such as the A330 and A350, which are considered to be more sustainable.

The Chief Executive of Airbus, Tom Enders, described the decision to end productions as ‘painful’. Mr Enders added that the step was necessary as Airbus had ‘no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all sales efforts with other airlines in recent years.’

The end of A380 production, scheduled for 2021, is expected to have some influence on the employment of some Airbus workers both in the UK and abroad.

The component parts of the A380 are produced independently all over Europe, including England, Wales, Germany, France, Italy and Spain, before being assembled at Airbus’ Toulouse base in France.

In the UK, Airbus currently uses the subsidiary Airbus UK as a means to complete work on the A380 across its Filton and Broughton sites. The Filton site, near Bristol, employs around 4,500 people and is heavily involved in the design of the A380 wing structure, landing gear integration and fuel systems. The Broughton site in Wales employs nearly 6,500 people, most of which are involved in A380 wing assembly. All of these jobs remain at risk.

Engines for the A380 are produced in Derby by Rolls-Royce, though it is unknown how many jobs may be affected. It’s base in Derby currently employs around 16,000 personnel, though last year, Rolls-Royce announced a plan to cut 4,600 UK staff by 2020. The Rolls-Royce Chief Executive, Warren East, admitted last year in an interview with BBC Radio that the effects of this staff cut would ‘be most strongly felt in Derby’.

Airbus has stated that major job losses are not expected in the UK. Current staff working on the A380 are speculated to be redeployed into other areas of production across Airbus UK.

However, there has been no official guarantee of jobs. Of those stated, Airbus officially expects a loss of 300 of the 6,500 jobs at Broughton, though this is subject to change.

At Filton, the majority of operations were subcontracted to GKN plc back in 2011. Airbus, however, has given no mention to these subcontracted jobs as of yet.

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Jake Goddard

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January 2022
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